The capital and most populous city of Norway, Oslo is a sophisticated harbour city with some of the greatest attractions and historical sites in Europe. It is also home to big contemporary names, including celebrated late artist Edvard Munch. But possibly the city’s greatest appeal is its unique geographical make-up – hugging the harbour and bordered by a sprawling woodland backdrop, the city allows locals and visitors to dive into the great outdoors just a few steps away from their urban comforts.
What to see and do
One of Oslo’s biggest draws is its long-standing association with legendary painter Edvard Munch. Known for his influences on German Expressionism and the evocation of psychological themes – most famously portrayed in the indelible painting Scream – Munch spent key moments in his life in Oslo.
Visit the world’s largest collection of Munch’s masterpieces in Munch Museum, which owns more than half of his paintings and all of his graphic works, and the National Gallery, where the most renowned version of Scream is mounted.
The city also houses a dizzying array of landmark museums and structures that proudly document the rich history of the region. Take a tour of Akershus Castle, a medieval gem from 1299 that was refurbished and now sports regal Renaissance fittings; Akershus Fortress by Oslofjord, another medieval site from the 13th Century with a captivating history of sieges; or the Polar Ship Fram Museum, home of the strongest wooden ship ever built that also holds the record for sailing the farthest north and farthest south.
To get away from city exploits, head out to the harbour to hop on a luxurious ocean tour on the great sea. A number of guided tours can be chosen from here, including a jazz cruise with a prawn buffet and a cruise around Oslofjord on the majestic white Christian Radich, Norway’s sailing ambassador.
Public transportation here is extremely efficient and convenient. The buses, trams, subways (t-bane), ferries, and local trains run throughout Oslo and the surrounding county Akershus, and all these services operate by the same ticketing system under Transport within zone 1 (Oslo) and zone 2 is free if you get the Oslo Pass.
City biking is prevalent in these parts as well. Called Oslo Bysykkel, the bicycles are available for rent throughout the city. You will need an electronic smartcard to ride the bikes, and these City Bike cards can be rented at Tourist Information counters.
Getting to Oslo
Oslo is served by Oslo Airport Gardermoen, which receives international and domestic carriers. Airlines flying here include Norwegian Air Shuttle, Air Berlin, Air France, British Airways, KLM, and United Airlines. From the Airport, you can take the Flytoget Airport Express Train or the Flybussekspressen bus to various locations in Oslo.
The city is also connected by Norwegian State Railways, which operates local and regional trains in Oslo and around Norway. Ferries also berth at Oslo’s harbour, including Color Line, DFDS Seaways, and Stena Line.